Merlot was given a bad rap after it was mocked in the movie Sideways which gave Pinot Noir star status in the galaxy of fine wine. Maybe its because Merlot is so easy to grow and make into a good wine; there's no challenge to work with it. Heck, even here in British Columbia, where producing good red wine has been a challenge, Merlot is easily our best effort. It is so darn predictable, and for some people, boring. But not this Merlot, from nearby Washington State.
I first became aware of Horse Heaven Hills (H3) when my daughter's boyfriend brought me a bottle of H3 Cabernet Sauvignon from their trip south of the border. I was in awe! A few weeks ago, I was surprised to see their Merlot on local shelves. And I wasn't shocked when this Merlot delivered as much "ooh la la" as the orginal Cab that wowed me.
I don't often 'buy' the description of wines on the back label; too often they are full of hyperbole, exaggeration, and science fiction. But this time the winery depiction was accurate. "Medium bodied Merlot, delicous aromas of spice and blackberry with a perfect balance of earthy, dusting of cocoa, and ripe cherry flavours and lingering rich, velvety finish.." Amen!
Layers of mouth watering flavours, complexity, and richness...you can easily get to love this kind of vino. Part of the complexity comes from the small amounts of other grapes blended with the Merlot. For the 09 vintage, along with the 96% Merlot, there is 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Malbec. The previous vintage had Merlot with Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Syrah stirred in. For those of you who must have a score for a wine, Wine Spectator rated this particular red 89% and labelled it "intriguing". If you are having a delectable medium rare Rib Eye or T-bone for Valentines Day, this H3 Merlot would be an intriquingly delicious addition to the menu. You might want to sip some as you nibble your way through some dark chocolate which cupid sent for the occasion. Bon Appetit!
Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills 2009 Merlot: Washington State, $22.99, 14.5%High Ho Merlot!
Rich Red Wine. Highly Recommended. $22.99